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I`m Not There

by Zettel 

Posted: 18 January 2008
Word Count: 188

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I'm Not There

It may depend when
you joined the train
young people all
around the world
came on board
obedience denied
blood-stained patriotic flags
torn or burnt or furled
“why” their parents cried
as one voice came the shout
“because the bastards lied”

Drawn on board
by the music that
thrilled their souls
A decade older
the Pied Pipers beckoned
all aboard
Buddy Chuck and Jerry Lee
Elvis Eddie Gene
and Little Richard too
stirring youthful blood
genesis of the new

And all these callow riders
came to feel that
one of their number
captured their desires
awoke them from their slumber
expressed their inner fires
split their world asunder
and seemed as if he knew
where the train was headed
a journey terminating
where all was real and true

But he was just a rider
With an eye to make us see
there are no final answers
just the questions we must face
troubadour of why
peddler to our doubt
the minstrel of dissent
watched many leave the train
while others took their place
but he just rode the rails for ever
his passion never spent.

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 21:52 on 24 January 2008  Report this post
You’ve something very apposite to say in this poem about that cultural phenomenon that started just about half a century ago, I think. I remember asking to some of my pals at school if they’d heard that ‘Hound Dog’ by Elvis Presley. Not all of them had. Those who had probably said it was smashing or whatever colloquial word we used then. The train had left the station.

That phantom train that promised to take young people on a trip to a place ‘where all is real and true’. But the points were changed and it was diverted through the landscape of the eighties and beyond. Illusion and fakery were everywhere and the bastards were lying even more unashamedly than before.

I don’t know if the ‘minstrel of dissent’ in the second half of the poem is meant to be any particular celebrity, but I thought at once of Bob Dylan. I think I got off that train at the first station, because apart from Dylan (and Elvis before he got derailed) I was pretty much left cold by those Pied Pipers. Especially the Beatles. But Dylan seemed a genuine ‘troubadour of why’. ‘The times they are a-changing…’ is still a Pied Piper tune - I’ll still follow the guy who sings it, even if the times have changed in ways we never dreamed of.

‘Troubadour of why’ is memorable, and true. There have been no ‘final answers’ (partial ones, maybe, those that lead to new questions) but questions must go on being asked - and sung. And put into verse.


Zettel at 23:00 on 24 January 2008  Report this post

'I'm Not There' is the name of the film about Bob Dylan on release at the moment. (I've done a review on WW). So you got the right person. It is clear from the film and Dylan's life that after being lionised everyone then became disilliusioned with him either because he insisted that his music had to move with the times or that he didn't have answers to the questions he posed.

There is also a tendency to forget that he was a teenager when the early rock'n'rollers I mention were at their peak, so his use of electric guitars was always consistent with his history.

I agree thatpeotry can be a goo d way of trying to express these things. And no on eperhaps did it better that Dylan himslef.

Thanks for the comments



and sorry about the typos....

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